This 18-suite Lake Como Boutique Hotel Offers a Fresh Take on Traditional Italian Luxury

Villa Lario is giving the lake's storied luxury scene a renewed energy.

The infinity pool at Villa Lario on Lake Como
Photo: Lorenzo Pennati/Courtesy of Villa Lario

It can feel almost impossible to find a hotel that strikes the perfect balance between luxury and livability — a place that's a true home away from home, but in an elevated, aspirational way. That is, until you stay at Villa Lario.

I first discovered the 18-suite boutique property on a solo trip through Italy in the summer of 2021. The hotel had just debuted eight new suites, affirming its place as a contender within Lake Como's storied luxury scene.

It took less than a day of enjoying the property to realize that it was something special — the panoramic view, harmonious design, ingredient-driven menu, and laid-back atmosphere came together to create a heavenly escape. After my three-night stay, I promised myself I would return, unable to bear that my time at this blissful hideaway was coming to an end. So, that's exactly what I did — I went back this May, less than a year later.

I brought my partner this time, and I was a bit nervous that all of my ranting and raving had given him hard-to-match expectations. But he somehow found it even better than I had described, noting that the feeling you get from the combination of luxury amenities and a homey atmosphere is hard to grasp without having experienced it.

However, there are a number of standout elements of the hotel that are easier to put into words. Read on for a few of the things that make Villa Lario a must-visit on Italy's famed Lake Como.

The lounge and terrace at Villa Lario on Lake Como
Courtesy of Villa Lario

Architecture and Design

The 19th-century villa is made up of four distinct buildings that each have their own personality. The largest, Il Palazzo, unveiled renovations just last year. The entire property blends classic Italian architecture and modern luxury amenities, but this intertwining is most noticeable in this freshly revamped space, which, to me, feels like the heart of the hotel.

In addition to its suites, Il Palazzo boasts a grand fireplace (part of the original build), towering glass doors that open directly onto the lake, and a long terrace at lake level — an ideal spot for an aperitivo. The old and new fuse seamlessly, perhaps because many of the materials and furnishings used in the renovation were sourced from local Italian artisans. One of my favorite examples is the mosaic floor inspired by the lake's reflections, created by Milan-based specialists Fantini Mosaici.

Interior of the pavillion at Villa Lario on Lake Como
Lorenzo Pennati/Courtesy of Villa Lario

Ingredient-focused Food

How many times have you seen a menu broken down into appetizers, entrees, and desserts? It's so common that it's easy to forget there are other ways to approach a meal. Villa Lario's menu is instead categorized by ingredients.

With each new season, the chef and his team choose five ingredients from specialty regions across Italy. They then create three dishes centered around each ingredient, all of which you can order as an appetizer or entree.

On my most recent visit, for example, one of the ingredients selected was mais biancoperla — a type of white corn used to make polenta — from the northeastern region of Veneto. Some of the dishes highlighting the mais included a delicious polenta gnocchi with asparagus and baby squid and a pork loin with polenta and bok choy. The idea is that each dish on the menu allows diners to experience one of Italy's homegrown ingredients in a unique way.

The exterior of Villa Lario on Lake Como
Courtesy of Villa Lario

Access to All Things Lake Como

Of course, one of the many things that makes the hotel so spectacular is its location. With a ferry stop less than a five-minute walk from the villa, it's an ideal spot for exploring the lake. Even better, it means there's no need to rent a car. If you're brave enough to drive on the narrow, winding roads, a car could be useful for getting off the beaten path, but in my experience, the ferry is perfectly convenient.

It's only a few stops to some of the area's most charming towns, like quiet Torno, colorful Varenna, and ever-popular Bellagio. Plus, this isn't your average ferry — it's the next best thing to a private boat tour (though the hotel can arrange that, if you'd prefer). Sure, the ride may take some time if you're heading far up the lake, but with all of the surrounding beauty, you won't want it to end.

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